Ford’s first VW-based EV to be US-flavoured crossover

The landmark car-making tie-up between Ford and Volkswagen will begin to bear fruit in 2023, when the US manufacturer kick-starts its bold European EV offensive with a locally produced and regionally focused crossover to sit beneath the Mustang Mach-E.

Arriving in line with the Blue Oval’s ambition to fully electrify its European range by 2030, the crossover will be the first EV built at Ford’s $1 billion (£708m) Electrification Centre in Cologne, Germany. It is set to be produced initially alongside the Fiesta supermini, which is scheduled to end its current life cycle in 2024 or 2025.

The new crossover will be the first Ford to use the Volkswagen Group’s MEB EV platform, as part of a long-term strategic partnership between the two firms that will also result in Ford building commercial vehicles for the German brand.

More specifically, the new Ford will share the bulk of its underpinnings with Volkswagen’s ID 4 crossover, rather than its shorter ID 3 hatchback, which paves the way for a line-up comprising a wide variety of battery capacities, power outputs and driveline layouts.

The Ford crossover, which is set for a reveal in the first half of 2022 before its 2023 market introduction, will adopt a similar low-slung, two-box silhouette to its Zwickau-built sibling. As such, it is tipped to make a significant departure in its design from the flagship Mach-E, with straighter and more prominent body creases among its defining features.

Ford of Europe boss Stuart Rowley revealed recently that he will leverage Ford’s American heritage as a point of differentiation from rival firms, which is likely to influence the styling of the new EV.

“Ford is the only American brand in Europe now and that’s a unique position that we can build on. A lot of people are attracted to some of those characteristics and only Ford can bring products like that to the market,” he said, hinting that core US-market models like the new Bronco and Explorer SUVs could be used as the basis for European models, in much the same way as the Mach-E draws on elements of the Mustang.

Ford has still yet to confirm whether it will use a historically significant name for the new model, as it has done with the Puma, Mach-E and Bronco. Autocar understands a final decision has yet to be made, but a revival of the Mondeo badge is highly unlikely.

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Ford plans to deliver more than 600,000 MEB-platformed electric cars between 2023 and 2029 and it has made no secret of the potential for a second or even third Volkswagen-based electric Ford.

Volkswagen Group boss Herbert Diess has previously suggested that a second car could “almost double” the supply of MEB components to Ford, suggesting a retained focus on mass-market appeal and accessibility.

There has been no indication of which Volkswagen Group model a follow-up Ford EV would be twinned with, but given Ford’s well-documented focus on expanding its SUV range, a likely candidate would be the affordable Volkswagen urban crossover that’s due around 2025, potentially as a replacement for the Fiesta.

However, Rowley has been quick to point out that “Ford has and will have its own global battery-electric platforms and we will use some of those in Europe also”, suggesting MEB-based cars will make up only a part of its EV line-up here.

Rowley acknowledged Volkswagen’s comparative strength in the mid-sized car segment as a key motivation for the partnership.